Bill Gates on inclusive innovation

Posted on January 29, 2012  /  0 Comments

In a recent in-house piece I did on LIRNEasia’s work on inclusive innovation with emphasis on agriculture, I concluded that inclusive development occurs when “the necessary condition of high, sustained growth above 7 percent year-on-year and the sufficient condition of a majority of the country’s work force being engaged in high-growth sectors are satisfied.” Innovations that contribute to inclusive development qualified as inclusive.

In most developing countries, a high proportion of the work force is engaged in agriculture. Therefore, one cannot envisage inclusive development occurring without agriculture being transformed from a laggard sector to a leading growth sector. In this context, Bill Gates’s thinking on innovation is highly relevant to any discussion of inclusive innovation:

We can help poor farmers sustainably increase their productivity so they can feed themselves and their families. By doing so, they will contribute to global food security. But that will happen only if we prioritize agricultural innovation.

Gates concludes a highly informed and thought-provoking discussion on problems in agricultural livelihoods and solutions, thus:

When I talk about innovation, it can be abstract for some people. But the direct link between the challenges Christina faces when her crop is destroyed and the solutions that Dr. Ndunguru is working on every day makes it very concrete. Disease-resistant cassava is an answer to Christina’s prayers, and I look forward to the day when Dr. Ndunguru’s work is done and I can go back to Tanzania and see Christina’s field thick with healthy cassava plants. That is why I say that innovation has been and will continue to be the key to improving the world.

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